Protestors against quarantine orders, Lansing, Michigan, April 15. Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

A group of states across the Midwest is the latest to announce a joint regional plan to reopen businesses in the wake of stay-at-home efforts designed to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

The big picture: President Trump is expected to tell governors on Thursday that he won't hold them back if they want to restart their state economies, Axios' Jonathan Swan and Mike Allen report.

  • Northeastern states, including those hardest hit by the virus, like New York and New Jersey, announced a regional task force to guide the easing of coronavirus restrictions on Monday.
  • Western states including California, Oregon and Washington teamed up earlier this week on a plan to lift lockdowns as conditions permit.

Details: The governors of Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky say they will focus on four factors to reopen their states: (1) controlling new infections and hospitalizations; (2) virus testing and tracing; (3) gauging whether hospitals can manage another virus surge; and (4) how to handle social distancing at work.

What they're saying: “Phasing in sectors of our economy will be most effective when we work together as a region," the governors said in a statement. "This doesn’t mean our economy will reopen all at once, or that every state will take the same steps at the same time. But close coordination will ensure we get this right. Over time, people will go back to work, restaurants will reopen, and things will go back to normal. We look forward to working together as one region to tackle this challenge together.”

The bottom line: Leading coronavirus modeling has recently lowered its projection for the number of American deaths from COVID-19, a sign that social distancing is working.

Go deeper: Michigan protesters rally over Gov. Whitmer's stay-at-home order

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 20,388,408 — Total deaths: 743,599— Total recoveries: 12,616,973Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 5,150,590 — Total deaths: 164,681 — Total recoveries: 1,714,960 — Total tests: 63,252,257Map.
  3. Business: U.S. already feeling effects of ending unemployment benefits — U.S. producer prices rose last month by the most since October 2018.
  4. Public health: America is flying blind on its coronavirus response.

Trump congratulates QAnon conspiracy theorist on GOP runoff win

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Wednesday tweeted congratulations to Marjorie Taylor Greene, a vocal QAnon conspiracy theorist who won the Republican nomination in Georgia's deep-red 14th Congressional District runoff.

Why it matters: The president's approval illustrates how the once-fringe conspiracy theory has gained ground within the GOP. Greene is among the at least 11 GOP candidates for Congress who have openly supported or defended the QAnon movement or some of its tenets, per Axios' Jacob Knutson.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

What Kamala Harris means for Biden's climate change plans

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joshua Lott/Stringer.

Sen. Kamala Harris' VP selection could heighten the ticket's focus on environmental justice while prompting fresh Trump campaign political attacks on Democrats' energy plans.

Why it matters: Her introduction comes in an election year that has seen more emphasis on climate change than prior cycles. One effect of the movement ignited by the police killing of George Floyd is a new focus on environmental burdens that poor people and communities of color face.